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three teens critical after stolen vehicle crash

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 17:21 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Three juveniles in a stolen vehicle were airlifted following a violent collision with a tree late Tuesday morning in LaPorte.

LaPorte Police Sgt. Bill Degnegaard said the two males and one female were unconscious when loaded into helicopters.

They were all taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, he said.

A fourth male occupant was transported by ambulance to LaPorte Hospital with much less serious injuries.

Buddy Kasinger, a spokesman for LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service, said each person flown from the crash site was in critical condition.

According to police, they were in a sport utility vehicle southbound on Andrew Ave. that began fishtailing.

More than 200 feet of skid marks were laid down before the driver went off the right side of the pavement.

The driver's side of the vehicle was basically wrapped around the tree just a few feet off the edge of the roadway.

LaPorte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said it took multiple sets of jaws of life to free the most seriously injured people from the vehicle.

''Two of them were very involved extrications,'' he said.

According to police, the vehicle was reported stolen in Michigan City.

The SUV belonged to a Butch Barnhart, a paramedic working midnights who discovered it missing from the EMS base at Wabash St. and Coolspring Ave. about 7 a.m. Tuesday, said Kasinger.

According to police, a reckless driver behind the wheel of the fast moving SUV in the area of Indiana 39 and 18th St. was reported just prior to the collision less than a mile away.

Degnegaard said a good estimate on how fast the vehicle was traveling won't be known until accident reconstructionists finish their work.

There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol at the crash site, police said.

Shelynn Jameson of LaPorte said she was on break from her job as a dietician at Golden Living Center when she saw the car go by at a high rate of speed then slam into the tree.

She then ran over to the vehicle to see if she could help.

''They hit that tree hard. Hard,'' Jameson said.